15 Aug 2014

Argentina name top side

6:31 am on 15 August 2014

Argentina have retained just two players from their last starting line-up when they named a near full-strength side for their opening match of the Rugby Championship against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Sunday morning.

Argentina rugby team

Argentina rugby team Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Injured winger Juan Imhoff is the only major absentee from the squad named by coach Daniel Hourcade, who had rested most of his first-choice selections for the June tests against Ireland and Scotland.

Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez and winger Manuel Montero are the only players retained from the side that lost 21-19 to Scotland in Cordoba in their last test on June 20th.

Hourcade says the players have had very good preparation and trust they will be able to deliver on the pitch.

Argentina spent close to a month at a high-performance centre in the US in June and July to prepare for the four-nation competiton, where they will also meet Australia and New Zealand.

The England-based hooker Agustin Creevy will captain the side for the first time but will not be short of experienced advisors with former skippers Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Juan Fernandez Lobbe and Martin Landajo all in the line-up.

Fernandez Lobbe returns after an injury-plagued season as does centre Juan Martin Hernandez, both of whom last played for the Pumas last October.

Argentina are participating in the Rugby Championship for a third year but are yet to win a match.